The Light Invisible

A Blog for the Church Magical

Tag: Charles Stansfeld Jones

Acephale Georges Bataille

Georges Bataille and the Black Brotherhood—Crowley’s “Scientific Illuminism” vs. Bataille’s “Science of Filth”

The radical French philosopher Georges Bataille and the English magus Aleister Crowley at first seem to have much in common—both explored the darker sides of eroticism and their links to spiritual experience, both were evocative writers expressing philosophical standpoints considered beyond the pale of polite early twentieth-century society, and both sought a rapturous mystical dissolution of the ego-bound self, a union with what traditional mystics would call the One or the All. But their understandings of the end of the mystic’s quest differ greatly—even to the point that, according to orthodox Thelema’s conception of the magician’s supreme goal of “crossing the Abyss,” Bataille could be labeled a member of the vilified Black Brotherhood, that society of Dark Adepts who ultimately fail in their spiritual task. (Bataille, of course, would probably revel in the transgressive identification.)

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Toward an Illuminated Accelerationism: The #Accelerate Manifesto and the Universal Brotherhood

We live in an era of great plenty, in the midst of an abundance unprecedented in human history. Yet we also live in a time of artificial scarcity — calls for austerity, rationalistic excuses for massive economic inequality, and attacks on the poor in the name of a death-dealing morality masquerading as level-headed budgetary concern. While the poor are told that they need to choose between healthcare and iPhones, the rich find it acceptable to spend thousands of dollars on exclusive music festivals held on private islands. On left and right, a fatalistic obsession with the temporary autonomous zone — brief moments supposedly free from the control of restrictive and rapacious neoliberal capitalism — replace speculative visions of a better future that once drove both the political imaginaries of social movements, and the utopian dreams of the occultists, esotericists, and fringe religious communities. In the memorable phrase of Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams, and Armen Avanessian, “the future has been cancelled.”

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Parliament of the World's Religions

The Esoteric Dimensions of the Parliament of the World’s Religions

In 1893, the first Parliament of the World’s Religions was convened at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This historic event brought together representatives from a number of world religions, including one of the first introductions for Americans and Western Europeans to the religions of Asia on Asian terms. Swami Vivekananda gave a famous speech at the Parliament and received a standing ovation from over 7,000 listeners. Soyen Shaku, the first Zen Buddhist master to teach in the United States, made his American debut at the Parliament, and his speech was translated into English by his young student, D.T. Suzuki. The Parliament is considered to be the birth of the modern interfaith movement, and the first formal interfaith gathering to be held in world history. Since the first Parliament, the event has coalesced into an organized movement with regular occurrences, with other historic Parliaments held throughout the world over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, Rome.

On the Papal World-Tree, or, An Esoteric Meditation on the Papacy

Originally posted as a part of my column, The Blooming Staff, on the Agora, the group blog of the Patheos Pagan Channel.

Next Sunday, a new show premieres on HBO — “The Young Pope.” The show stars Jude Law as an ultraconservative Archbishop of New York who is elected to the Papacy, and who embarks on a traditionalist mission reminiscent of Pope Benedict XVI’s, if Benedict had been a narcissistic New York chain-smoker with visionary dreams and an American nun played by Diane Keaton as his close advisor. Jude Law’s Pope is essentially the polar opposite of Pope Francis, and has more in common with the fictional Pope Hadrian VII, the main character of Frederick Rolfe’s 1904 decadent novel Hadrian the Seventh.

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Tommaso Campanella's City of the Sun.

Prisca Theologia, Pansophy, and Integral Truth – Some Notes on Universal Reformation

Originally posted as a part of my column, The Blooming Staff, on the Agora, the group blog of the Patheos Pagan Channel.

1.

In 1947, Protestant theologian Karl Barth introduced the phrase Ecclesia semper reformanda est — “the church is always to be reformed.” Barth used the phrase to express the Reformed conviction that the Christian Church must constantly examine itself and continue to evolve and reform; a teaching that thinks of the Reformation as a permanent state rather than an historic event. Since the Second Vatican Council, certain radical Catholic theologians like Hans Küng have also used the saying to express their desire for a Church that remains open to the world and to the spirit of the times. Pope Francis has in many ways resumed this spirit of dialogue and openness within the Church, especially when it comes to issues like poverty and climate change.

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Last Judgement, Fra Angelico, panel painting, 1387 or 1395

Eschatology – The Marker of Christian Occultism

Originally posted as a part of my column, The Blooming Staff, on the Agora, the group blog of the Patheos Pagan Channel.

As I continue my research into post-Crowley forms of Thelema, Christian theology, and other occult traditions (especially the teachings of the Universal Brotherhood, which Frater Achad led as Mahaguru starting in the early 1930s), one major point of difference has emerged for me between Christian forms of occultism and non-Christian traditions like Thelema: eschatology.

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New Jerusalem

The Curious Conversion of Frater Achad

[Note: Originally published as a part of my column for the Patheos Pagan Channel, The Blooming Staff.]

This column explores the intersections between Catholic theology and the Thelemic current, so it was only a matter of time before Frater Achad—mundane name Charles Stansfeld Jones—came up. Prior to the late nineteenth century, most occult and esoteric movements were Christian, many heterodox Catholic—the Elus Cohen of Martinez de Pasqually, the Martinists, the Rosicrucians of the Parisian occult revival, and many members of the Golden Dawn. In the twentieth century, A.E. Waite, Dion Fortune, and many other figures continued the esoteric Christian current. But Thelema appears to have a built-in bias against Christianity, stemming directly from its founder and from his Aeonic schema, which suggests that the formula of the dying and rising God (the Aeon of Osiris) is now outmoded in favor of the formula of the crowned and conquering child (the Aeon of Horus).

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